Milwaukee County Sales Tax Advisory Referendum (2008)

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Milwaukee County Sales Tax Advisory Referendum (2008) was approved to be placed on the ballot as a legislative referral by the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors for the November 4 ballot in Milwaukee County.

The measure asked voters whether they favor a 1 cent county sales tax increase, with proceeds to fund parks, transit, emergency medical services and property tax relief.[1] The question is advisory only, with no requirement that it be acted upon if approved.

The referendum was a county board-backed measure that passed June 26th, 2008 by a margin of 12 to 6. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker vetoed the sales tax referendum which can only be overridden with 13 votes on the county board.


Approved 51% - 49%. The Legislature and governor must now approve the sales tax increase before it would take effect.[2]

Tax effect

The sales tax increase will generate over $130 million dollars in revenue and triple the existing .5% county sales tax to 1.5%, raising the overall sales tax from 5.6% to 6.6%. It could also cut the property tax levy by $67 million as services normally funded by property taxes would begin receiving funding through the increased sales tax.[3]


Milwaukee County Board Chairman Lee Holloway supports the measure, saying that the additional sales tax could be balanced by lowering the property tax levy.


Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker opposes the measure, saying that lowered property taxes are not guaranteed if the sales tax is approved. He calls the notion of raising one tax to lower another a "sucker bet," and notes that it has not been successful in the past. Sales tax was introduced in Milwaukee County in 1991, since when property taxes have gone up by 71%.[4]

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce oppose the measure, saying that the referendum "lacks both the long-term funding guarantees and adequate protections for the taxpayer."[5]

External links


  1. Milwaukee County Board approves referendum on sales tax increase , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 26, 2008
  2. Non-Binding Tax Increase Referendum Passes In Milwaukee, WISN, November 5, 2008
  3. Milwaukee County [[sales tax (dead link)] increase could cut levy], Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 19, 2008
  4. Walker, Holloway spar over sales tax referendum, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 31, 2008
  5. Sales Tax Hike Wrong Answer for Milwaukee (dead link), Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce